Mentor to mentee: Varsity basketball player learns from recovered addict

Mentor to mentee: Varsity basketball player learns from recovered addict

Sam McLemore

“Adarius is an excellent player,” teammate Murad Dillard said. “He can fi nd great passes, but he can shoot as well.” Although Lucas (center) calls himself a “pass fi rst player,” it isn’t uncommon for him to take a shot.

He’d been in as many fights in the last two months as the previous 13 years combined. It was getting worse because there was no one there to say stop – no one that could actually have an impact on him.

Following his grandmother’s death when he was 12, junior Adarius Lucas’ life began to spiral downward. Fights and “full blown riots” began to litter his disciplinary record.

In eighth grade, Lucas met Terry LeCount through the Boys and Girls Club. An exNFL player working at the Boys and Girls Club, LeCount forced Lucas to change his behavior by talking to him “straight.”

“He basically called us clowns – people that act out.” Lucas said. “He told me clowning is stupid, so just don’t do it.”

“I kind of pulled his shirt tail one day,” LeCount said. “I sat there and started talking to him, ‘Look man, if you misbehave outside of the club, people out there will either call the police [or] write you up. You’re a teenager. You don’t need a record.’”

In a way, LeCount’s “tough-love” mentality is a by-product of his role model while growing up.

“My father, being a disciplinarian, told me that he wasn’t my friend because he was my father, and I carry that mentality with me when I am dealing with kids.”

Lucas can attribute his misbehaving to one event, the death of his grandmother.

“When I came out of middle school, my grandma passed. After that, I just started acting [like] a fool,” Lucas said, “She was basically the only person that made me do the positive things that I do.”

LeCount remarked that Lucas’ personal life didn’t change his perception of him.

“I didn’t know what other stuff was going on his life,” LeCount said. “I just wanted him to pursue the potential that he had . . . which was basketball.”

After his grandmother’s death, Lucas stopped playing basketball.

Then, his grades dropped.

“I wasn’t playing basketball because I was acting like a fool,” Lucas said. “And [my grades] were slipping. [This] made everything worse because they wouldn’t even allow me to play.”

Although LeCount believed that Lucas was an excellent athlete, he realized that Lucas had developed an emotional connection to his sport.

“He loved basketball,” LeCount said. “Everyone needs an outlet. For him, [that] was it, and it was obvious that basketball was his life.”

LeCount knew the Boys and Girls Club couldn’t support Lucas’s level of commitment to his sport. “He didn’t need to be playing here,” LeCount said. “He had the talent, so he shouldn’t be playing at the [Boys and Girls] club.”

LeCount’s perspective on athletics comes from an extensive career as an athlete in Florida. He was a track and football star at his high school, quarterback for the University of Florida and wide receiver in the NFL.

His career was cut short by addictions to cocaine and alcohol.

According to the Florida Times-Union , a cocaine habit forced him into rehabilitation in 1981, derailing his career.

“I could’ve played 15 more years if I hadn’t done [drugs],” LeCount said to the newspaper. “[But] I was a functional addict. I wasn’t out abusing cocaine in public.”

Similar to Lucas, any change in LeCount’s life required an outside influence. For LeCount, it was Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization for Alcoholics seeking recovery, that gave him the support to overcome alcoholism and cocaine addiction.

Today, LeCount is proud that he faced and overcame his “demons.”

“I tell people all the time,” LeCount said. “They hug me and congratulate me, but it doesn’t bother me if they know because I keep the word ‘recovered’ on the front end of it, not the back.”

Lucas says that he too feels a good amount of pride in his achievements. His placement on the varsity team his sophomore year returned him to the normal way of life after years of anger.

“When I made varsity, it felt like home. Like I should have already been there,” Lucas said. “It felt like everything would be alright because I had progressed.”